Photo Credit: Michael Zeff / TPS
European Parliament chamber.

by Andrew Friedman The European Parliament praised a draft report Thursday surveying the group’s relationship with Iran, but Jewish groups said the report does little to address Tehran’s support for terrorism, its anti-Israel rhetoric and open anti-Semitism, or its systematic violation of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Spokespeople for the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee said the text of the report, entitled ‘EU Strategy Towards Iran After the Nuclear Agreement‘ will not been made public until next week. But EP Rapporteur Richard Howitt called the document a “very honest assessment of differences as well as of common interests” between Tehran and Brussels.


In a statement, Howitt addressed human rights in the Islamic Republic, particularly the death penalty, and expressed hopes that the report’s “constructive language” would serve as a platform to overcome a history of misunderstandings and form the basis for better relations between the parties.

He also told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) that the new report would send a strong political signal to both Iran and to EU member states looking for trade opportunities, as well as to human rights activists looking for support.

At least 15 European countries have sent trade delegations to Tehran since the nuclear deal was signed last year.

Jewish groups and pro-Israel MEPs were less enthusiastic. The AJC Transatlantic Institute, the European office of the American Jewish Committee, slammed the report as little more than a capitulation to Iran’s support for international terrorism, calls for the destruction of Israel and human rights abuses.

“The report in its current form is a serious blow to the standing of the European Parliament as a defender of human rights, justice and freedom,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the Transatlantic Institute.

“As the world watches helplessly the medieval siege and merciless bombardment of Aleppo, it is distressing that the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee didn’t find the moral clarity to admonish Assad’s Iranian enablers.

“By giving Tehran basically a free pass on its crimes at home and abroad, the report undermines Parliament’s credibility as a serious foreign policy voice and abandons the people of Iran and the regime’s other countless victims in the region,” Schwammenthal said.

Howitt rejected Schwammenthal’s claims regarding Israel out of hand. Speaking to TPS by phone, Howitt stressed that the report names Israel “as a country and people whose peace and security should be respected,” and that Iran should ensure that Hezbollah does not receive funding.

“When I was in Tehran I met with Jewish community, and I encouraged Iranian officials to use its Jewish community to reach out to other countries in the region – that’s clearly aimed at Israel,” Howitt said.

Howitt’s defense notwithstanding, Dutch member of the European Parliament Bas Belder added that the report “totally lacks any insight into the nature of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” and reflects poorly on Rapporteur Howitt.

“The rapporteur opposed my amendment that calls on Iran to cease its support of non-state entities and terrorist organizations in the Middle East, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, [as well as my call for Iran] to establish friendly relations with all states in the region, including Israel, and to cease threatening states with military actions against them,” Belder told Tazpit Press Service (TPS).

“It says a lot about the servile mindset of the rapporteur towards the Iranian regime that he was against my amendment condemning Iran’s repeated threats of destroying the State of Israel and its denial of the Holocaust, the phrase “Death to Israel” on Iranian ballistic missiles during the missile tests and Tehran’s recent International Holocaust Cartoon Contest.

“I feel deeply ashamed about this report in a political, moral and intellectual sense,” Belder added.


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